Surviving the Holidays, for people in recovery

Holiday Survival Tips for Recovering Alcoholics

1. Remember, you don’t have to go. Whether it’s the work party, family gathering or other event that alcohol will be a part of, you can decline to go if you’re concerned about your ability to stay sober. It doesn’t matter if others understand; it only matters that you do what you need to do so you can continue to become the person you want to be.

2. If you go, drive your own vehicle rather than riding with someone else. If you start to feel tempted to drink, you can leave successfully with minimal hassle. Remember too, you can leave, get your head cleared, and go back if you need to.

3. Keep doing all the things that have allowed you to be successful. Keep your routine of meetings, exercise, eating right, getting enough sleep and spiritual practices if you have them.

4. Review your goals consistently during this period. Keep in mind your reasons for getting sober and staying sober. See beyond the immediate next few weeks to the future you’re building for yourself. Don’t be shortsighted.

5. Take another sober alcoholic along with you for support or ask one to be available to call you to check on you during any event you attend. Be willing to return the favor.

6. Find a few non-alcoholic beverages you enjoy and stick with them. Don’t let anyone get your beverages for you unless you absolutely trust them. Avoid punch if you don’t know what’s in it. Decline the rum cake.

7. Know what you’re going to say if someone offers you a drink and they won’t take “no thanks” for an answer. While you might be tempted to use stronger language, keep it to things like “I don’t drink anymore” or “I’m on medication that doesn’t mix with alcohol.”  Be the designated driver, and you’ve got another good reason to decline. If someone is persistent, walk away.

8. Choose alternative activities. These might include serving at a homeless shelter, enjoying a wintry hike with family or friends, gather other recovering alcoholics for a gift-exchange or other social time.

9. Remember that the holidays can be hard for anyone, and some people might be emotionally charged at family gatherings especially. Walk away and avoid the drama if you have to. Don’t get drawn into anything that may become a trigger.

10. Attend an Alcoholics Anonymous “Alka-thon” during the holidays, a 24-hour, alcohol-free gathering for socializing, eating and support.

11. Reach out for help if you need it to those who understand the challenge your facing and are supportive of your recovery.

12. Let your mind and will determine what you do, not your feelings. Feelings may lead you into trouble if they are allowed to, but when you do the right thing and stay sober, your feelings will support the decision by rejoicing.

Although we are primarily discussing alcoholics in this article, other recovering addicts also find it more difficult to keep sober during the holidays. Those that were addicted to prescription drugs may sink into a depressive state if they don’t have friends and family around. This could easily trigger a relapse.

Recovering from alcoholism is a lifelong fight, but if you continue treatment at a rehabilitation facility or attend local AA meetings, you will always stay one step ahead


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